A prostate biopsy is a medical procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed from the prostate gland to be examined under a microscope. This test is typically performed to diagnose prostate cancer or other prostate abnormalities. The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized organ located below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men, and it is responsible for producing seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
Reasons for Carrying out Prostate Biopsy
In medical science, there are several purposes for carrying out a prostate biopsy. Some of the prominent reasons include;
Elevated PSA levels
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate gland. Elevated levels of PSA in the blood may be an indication of prostate cancer or other prostate conditions. If a man has persistently high PSA levels, a doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy to determine the cause.
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
During a DRE, a healthcare provider inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate gland, such as lumps or areas of firmness. If any abnormalities are detected, a biopsy may be recommended to investigate further.
Prostate cancer risk factors
In some cases, a doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy as a precautionary measure.
If a man has already been diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, a doctor may recommend active surveillance, which involves closely monitoring cancer without immediate treatment. During active surveillance, prostate biopsies may be performed periodically to ensure that cancer has not progressed or changed in nature.
If a man has had a negative biopsy result in the past but continues to have elevated PSA levels or other signs that suggest the possibility of prostate cancer, a doctor may recommend a repeat biopsy.
Keep in mind that while a prostate biopsy is an essential diagnostic tool, it can carry some risks and potential complications, such as infection, bleeding, and temporary urinary or erectile difficulties. Therefore, doctors carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks before recommending a biopsy.
Symptoms of Prostate Biopsy
It is essential to consult a healthcare professional if you suspect any issues with your prostate or are concerned about potential symptoms. While not an exhaustive list, here are some signs and symptoms that might indicate a need for further evaluation, such as a prostate biopsy:
- Difficulty in urinating
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pain or discomfort during urination, ejaculation, or in the lower back, hips, or pelvic region.
- Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Elevated PSA levels
Keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis. If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about your prostate health, consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and personalized recommendations.
How to Prepare for Prostate Biopsy
Preparing for a prostate biopsy typically involves the following steps:
Consultation with doctor
First, you need to consult with your doctor about your medical history, any medications you are currently taking, and any allergies you may have. Your doctor will provide detailed information about the biopsy procedure, risks, and potential complications.
During the consultation, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or aspirin. Apart from that, he may also advise you to take antibiotics before and after the biopsy to reduce the risk of infection.
You may be asked to use an enema or other bowel-cleansing method to empty your rectum before the biopsy. This step helps to minimize the risk of infection and improve the ultrasound image quality during the procedure.
Your doctor may ask you to fast (avoid eating or drinking) for a certain period before the biopsy, usually a few hours.
As you may experience discomfort or mild sedation during the procedure, it is recommended to have someone accompany you to the appointment and drive you home afterward.
Follow the doctor’s instructions
Be sure to follow any additional instructions provided by your healthcare team to ensure a smooth procedure and recovery.
There are several methods of performing a prostate biopsy, but the most common technique is called a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)-guided biopsy.
In TRUS-guided biopsy,
- The healthcare provider may use local anesthesia to make you feel comfortable during the procedure.
- The doctor inserts an ultrasound probe into the rectum to visualize the prostate gland and help guide the biopsy needle.
- After that, he inserts the needle into the prostate gland through the rectal wall to collect tissue samples.
- The collected tissue samples are then sent to a laboratory where a pathologist examines them for the presence of cancer cells or other abnormalities.
- The results of the biopsy help doctors determine the appropriate course of treatment, which can range from active surveillance to surgery, radiation therapy, or other interventions, depending on the severity and stage of cancer.
Here are some common aftercare tips for prostate biopsy:
- Avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and vigorous exercise for 24-48 hours.
- You may experience discomfort or pain after the procedure. Follow your doctor’s advice on the appropriate pain relievers and their dosages.
- Some bleeding after a prostate biopsy is normal. You may notice blood in your urine, stools, or semen for a few days to several weeks after the procedure. If the bleeding becomes heavy, or persistent, or you have concerns, contact your healthcare provider.
- Keep the biopsy site clean and dry.
- Drinking plenty of water can help flush out any blood in the urine and prevent dehydration.
- Watch for signs of infection, such as fever, chills, severe pain, or pus or discharge from the biopsy site. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider.
- Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and follow their specific recommendations for aftercare.
Prostate biopsy is a crucial diagnostic tool in detecting and evaluating the presence of prostate cancer. Understanding the signs and symptoms that may warrant a biopsy is essential for early detection and effective treatment. It is important to hire the services of a qualified and well-experienced healthcare provider if you are at a higher risk of prostate cancer. Maintain regular check-ups and follow the diet routine, medications, and advice of your healthcare provider.